Tag Archives: my book

Easy Brunch Cocktail

This is the best cocktail for Christmas brunch, but it's also perfect for any party this season. It's great for a crowd too!

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend, and I am thrilled to be guest posting today to bring you a festive holiday cocktail: pear prosecco punch.

In my house, I always make a huge Christmas brunch to enjoy after opening presents. The feast starts with sausage balls & pigs-in-a-blanket (oldies but goodies) and coffee for breakfast while we all tear through gifts. Late morning, I pop everything in the oven, and we sit down to a huge brunch complete with berry French toast, quiche, fruit, and of course, a festive cocktail. There are only three of us every year, but we always manage to have a full-fledged feast. This is the best cocktail for Christmas brunch.

One trick: freeze a bag of cranberries and keep them on hand in your freezer. Warm prosecco isn’t tasty. Frozen cranberries can be used in place of ice to keep your cocktails cold. They won’t water-down your beverage, and they’ll look festive, too!

Pear Prosecco Holiday Cocktail

Let me know if you give this a try! I’d love to hear what you think. Happy holidays!

xo, Nicole

Pear Prosecco Punch
serves 1

You will need:

– 2 oz Pear concentrate (I use Looza)
– 4 oz Prosecco
– Rosemary sprigs & frozen cranberries for garnish

To prepare:

Pour pear concentrate into a champagne or wine glass. Top with prosecco. Add a rosemary sprig and frozen cranberries for garnish.

photos by Nicole Letts

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Sneaky Good Side:: Butternut Squash with Chermoula

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You have seen my recipe for chermoula before. I’ve added it to soup and to steak, but one of my favorite uses is to mix it up with butternut squash for a delicious fall side dish. In fact, this would be such a fun addition to a Thanksgiving meal. Let me know if you give it a try.

 Butternut Squash with Chermoula

For the chermoula, you will need:

– 1 cup fresh Italian parsley
– 1 cup fresh cilantro
– 2-inch piece of ginger
– 3 cloves of garlic
– Juice of 1 lemon
– 1 cup of oil
– Salt and pepper
– 2 teaspoons coriander seeds

To prepare:

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add all ingredients and pulse until it forms a loose smooth sauce, about 1 minute.

For the butternut squash, you will need:
– 4 cups of cubed squash (cubes should be about 2 inches square)
– 4 tablespoons of prepared chermoula
– 3 tablespoons of olive oil
– 1 teaspoon of salt

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the Charmoula, oil and salt in a large bowl. Add the cubed squash and toss with a spoon. Place the marinated squash into a 12″x 8″ baking dish.

Place into the oven for 1 hour until golden brown.

 

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Sunday Supper:: Mushroom Risotto

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I love having a hearty meal with family on Sunday evenings. It is so comforting and sets the tone for the week ahead. I often search my archives for great Sunday supper ideas, and I recently stumbled on my mushroom risotto from my first book, Picture Perfect Parties.

Give it a try this weekend and let me know what you think.

Mushroom Risotto
Serves 6 as an entree, 10 as a side dish
You will need:

– 4 cups cleaned and sliced mushrooms
– 1 small sweet onion chopped in a fine dice
– 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
– 3 tablespoons olive oil + 1 tablespoon for the mushrooms
– 2 cups Arborio Rice (Italian rice available at specialty stores)
– 3-4 cups warm chicken or vegetable stock
– 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated
– 1 tablespoon butter to finish
– 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley for garnish
– 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper

To prepare:

Place stock in a medium saucepan on low heat.

In a small frying pan place 1 tablespoon oil and the mushrooms on medium heat and saute until mushrooms become light brown and without liquid. Set aside until ready to add to the risotto.

In a large skillet on medium heat, place butter, oil, and onion in the pan and saute for 3 minutes until transparent, then add the rice to the oil and onion, stir until the rice is completely coated, and continue to saute and stir for 5 minutes. Slowly, with a ladle, add the warm stock to the rice, stirring constantly until all the stock is incorporated and the rice is creamy (about 30-40 minutes). Add the mushrooms and 1 tablespoon butter as well as the parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir until incorporated.

Place in a serving bowl, garnish with parsley, serve immediately.

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Autumn Chapter Shoot for La Fortezza Cookbook

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Ciao Guys! If you follow me on Instagram, you know the legendary food photographer David Loftus was back during the first week of October to photograph the autumn chapter of La Fortezza Cookbook.

Autumn is my favorite time of year; I love the color palette. We smoked pumpkins, used the outdoor oven, “the “forno,” and implemented lots of fire and Medieval cooking techniques. We went to local purveyors and had great field trips. The olive harvest is starting, so we were able to witness the first press too. Green gold; it’s so delicious.

Of course, we had our trusty prop mistress and brilliant producer Barbara Pederzini. I flew chef Philip in from the US to work on this chapter. It was a huge effort and stressful to get him into Italy with the travel ban. He quarantined for 2 weeks prior to the shoot and then worked the week of the shoot with the team. We made beautiful images, and I am so excited to share this book with you. Thanks always for the support and lovely DMs on my Instagram. It’s always so wonderful to hear from you.

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It’s Chili Season!

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As the temperature starts to dip in the mornings, and there is a slight chill in the air in the evenings, I start dreaming about chili.

There’s something about the fall that is so comforting. I love the leaves changing, and the hues of green that slowly morph into browns, yellows, oranges, and reds. I love the cozy scarves, ponchos, and knee-high boots that become a part of our daily wardrobe. And the food? I love that too.

One of my favorite things about the fall is preparing a meal that makes the house smell good all day. Those fall food aromas are heavenly and comforting, and I love being able to walk in from a long day, toss everything in a pot, and enjoy a delicious meal. My White Bean Chili from my cookbook Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY is perfect for this. The flavor combinations are delicious, and there are a few surprise ingredients (like cinnamon) that really make the chili delicious. Prepare a big pot, serve heaping helpings, and let your family or guests top it with just about anything they want, but I prefer a great cheddar cheese and a little sour cream. Enjoy!

This is always the go-to for Halloween, too. Everybody can enjoy before or after trick or treating (or this year, cozying up with a family movie!). 

White Bean Chili
Serves 8

You will need:
– 1 lb ground sirloin
– 1 lb ground turkey
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 small onion chopped
– 3 cloves chopped garlic
– 4 tablespoons chili powder
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon white pepper
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– 8 cups chicken stock
– 2 cups canned cannellini white beans
– 2 cups canned pinto beans
– 2 tablespoons dried coriander

On the side:
– Tortilla chips
– Avocado
– Chopped fresh cilantro
– Sour cream

To prepare:

In a stockpot, sauté sirloin and turkey, with a slotted spoon remove cooked meat and set aside. Pour out any excess oil. Place olive oil and onions, garlic into the stockpot, heat on medium and cook until translucent. Add cooked meat, chili powder, salt, pepper and cinnamon and stock, simmer for 1 hour, add beans and coriander Cook for 3 hours.

Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream and sliced avocado and chopped fresh cilantro tortilla chips.

xx, Annette

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